“Neither treats Chalamet as its overriding star, nor his character’s murderous diet as salacious subject matter.”
As the absurdity of Timothée Chalamet’s roles in 2022 and beyond expand, so do their admirers. So far, his performances have become assumed firm favourites for 20 somethings in coming-of-age dramas, from paranoid bass player prone to monologuing in Lady Bird, to no less than Gerwig’s interpretation of the charmingly desperate Theodore Laurence in Little Women. The young leading man in Luca Guadagnino’s gay summer romance set in 1983 Italy Call Me By Your Name, Chalamet became simultaneously posterboyish yet emotionally disarming, earnest on American talk shows and seemingly flummoxed at his own trajectory. His part in Guadagnino’s ‘cannibalism’ project immediately became a source of intrigue and comedy on Twitter last year following previous fellow costar Armie Hammer’s scandal when anonymously posted messages surfaced in which he allegedly texted various women, “I am 100% a cannibal” and “I want to eat you.”
Almost as though in direct defiance of these truths, Bones and All neither treats Chalamet as its overriding star, nor his character’s murderous diet as salacious subject matter. Maren Yearly’s (Taylor Russell) first week of school is marked by a temptation, one she succumbs to in a premature sleepover scene in which her classmate’s ‘glazed cinnamon’ polished fingernail is bitten clean off. This is an apparent last straw for her father Frank (Ándre Holland), who leaves behind a confessional cassette of Maren’s history of victims, starting with the consumption of a babysitter at just three years old. As one male exits her life, stranger ones enter, cohesive in one peculiar way— they all share her taste for human flesh. Michael Stuhlbarg ingeniously plays a creepy and cackling ‘eater’ who literally sets up camp next to her nomading truck of choice, whilst Mark Rylance steals every scene he’s in as stalker ‘Sully’, who of course refers to himself in the third person throughout and carries the hair of his victims tied together in a disturbing bundle of cloth. By comparison, Lee (Chalamet) is the saving grace, a lovable loner best encapsulated in an initial disjointed dance to KISS’s ‘Lick It Up’. Tortured by his own past yet determined to help Maren understand hers, the pair embark on a road trip to track down her elusive mother, culminating in scenes more tender than one would ever have anticipated as addiction and forgiveness become central motifs.
As someone who still can’t stomach horror films, scarf across the eyes for the entirety of a Guadagnino’s Suspiria (2018) remake, unable to just leave the cinema, his best work was We Are Who We Are (2020), which centered on teenagers coming of age while living on an American military base in Italy. The ‘kids’ just felt so genuine; viewers spent time with their love, heartbreak and frustrations, depicted in all their finery. Bones and All manages to capture that exact sentiment of innocence, framing Maren’s first love in an almost clumsy realism that is in no way detached from familial trauma. Chilling scenes are harder to endure without Leonard Cohen’s deep hushing of ‘You Want It Darker’ over the trailer, but these moments are made so worthwhile by the mammoth acting going on. Annoyingly dubbed as ‘Timothée Chalamet’s new flick’, Bones and All undoubtedly remains Russell’s oyster, and it’s so exciting to see what she does next.